November Waccamaw Riverkeeper Paddle Patrol

Of all the landings on the Waccamaw River, I have probably spent the most time at Peachtree Landing. I have spent a lot of time at the landing with our volunteer water quality monitors of the infamous Team 4. Peachtree is my go-to location for river photography. For a time, it was the landing closest to my home and I used it as a reference site for what was going on with the river. It’s also the landing I recommend for kayaking to mostly anyone.

Peachtree Landing is at the end of Peachtree Road, but is often confused for the Socastee Yacht Basin on the Intracoastal Waterway. The landing has excellent access to the Waccamaw River with a number of routes to explore from the boat ramp. Paddlers can paddle approximately 2 river miles downstream to the next landing at Enterprise Landing where the Intracoastal joins the Waccamaw. Or turn upstream and continue up the Waccamaw’s mainstem. The landing also offers great access to Big Buckskin Creek which is full of hidden treasures, amazing bird life, and even alligators. Another option is to paddle into Peachtree Lake just upstream of the landing. This is where we headed during our November Paddle Patrol.

My original plan had been to explore Big Buckskin Creek. But upon arriving at the landing that Friday morning, I immediately changed my mind. It was cold and extremely windy. My original plan would have involved paddling against the wind upstream at the end of the paddle. No thank you! Instead, I thought we would venture into Peachtree Lake where we would be offered some buffer from the wind as the lake narrowed into a swampy creek.

Thanks to pandemic brain, I somehow managed to arrive at the landing more than an hour early. So, I did what any good clean water steward would do: I collected trash. I picked up hundreds of cigarettes, yards of monofilament, and handfuls of tobacco packaging. I know Peachtree is a popular spot for people to sit and relax and fish, but there is a trash can at the landing. In addition to the evidence of fishing and smoking, I collected a lot of plastic food wrappers, beer bottles, and a tire. It’s a shame that my favorite landing is often left trashed by the people using it and enjoying it.

Our group gathered at 9 am and planned to launch despite the cold weather. We started out as a group of 9 paddlers, but our numbers quickly dwindled to six after hitting the water. Some paddlers decided to head back due to the wind and rain. There is never no shame in heading back to the landing! Anyone on the water should feel comfortable and safe. If you don’t, it’s not your day to paddle. Honestly, if I hadn’t been the leader of this paddle, I might have decided to stay on land. Not because I felt unsafe, but because I am a sissy and I hate being cold!

We paddled upstream and into Peachtree Lake. Moving off the mainstem was a great idea. As we got into narrower passages, the wind died down and we were no longer so cold. The Paddle Patrol paddled into the lake while collecting floating and hanging trash, marveling at the summer’s abandoned osprey nests, and inadvertently chasing ducks further into the swamp. We paddled until the lake broke into tiny creeks and decided to head back to the landing. Afterall, we still had some paddlers back on land who had decided to turn back.

We faced some wind on the way back as we got into the wider waters, but we had avoided the worst of the cold. By the end of the paddle, I had managed to get quite warm and even a little sweaty! Though it was cold at first, I think we were all glad we went on the paddle. The weather had turned from miserable to manageable and our group managed to have a good paddle.

The skies were clear as we launched from Peachtree Landing. But it was COLD!
Even as the Waccamaw Riverkeeper, I never get tired of seeing our cypress trees. I pick a favorite on every paddle.
Water hyacinth is an invasive species in the Waccamaw. In years past, the plant has grown to massive patches.
Everyone, including your Waccamaw Riverkeeper, was bundled up for this chilly morning.
Back in the swampy upper reaches of Peachtree Lake, we had shelter from the wind and took our time exploring.
Peachtree Lake is home to several pairs of osprey. Here is one of their nests which the pair returns to annually.
Fall in the swamp isn’t for leaf peepers. But it is a great spot to find some quiet and solitude in our crazy lives.
Rick is a longtime supporter of the Waccamaw Riverkeeper and has spent countless hours keeping our river clean. During our paddle, he pulled a plastic chair out of the river!
Our Paddle Patrol had some gorgeous views of the river. The dark tannic waters of the Waccamaw always make a pretty picture.

We hope the weather will be better in December. Hoping to avoid the worst of it, we will launch at 10am instead of 9am. The December Paddle Patrol is scheduled for Friday December 17th at Conway Marina’s kayak launch at the end of Elm Street. The Paddle Patrol will go upstream and into Kingston Lake. We hope you’ll join us! Remember to dress for the weather and be sure to have a life jacket, light, and whistle on board your kayak! See you on the river!

Winyah Rivers Alliance

P.O. Box 554
Conway, SC 29528
843 .349 .4007

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